No decision on participation level for SAARC FMs meet: MEA

New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI) Government today said it is yet todecide on the level of India’s participation at the SAARCFinance Ministers meeting later this month in Islamabad, amidindications that Arun Jaitley may skip the conference due tostrain in ties between the two countries. "No decision has been taken so far on India’s level ofparticipation at SAARC Finance Ministers meet in Islamabad,"Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swaroop toldreporters here at his weekly media briefing. The conference is scheduled on August 25-26 in Islamabad. Earlier this week, official sources had said that Jaitleymay not visit Pakistan due to "political reasons". "You all know what happened last time and what ishappening," a source had said, referring to Home MinisterRajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month, whichwas also for a SAARC Ministerial meeting. Barbs were exchanged between Singh and Pakistan InteriorMinister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who only had a tense anduneasy handshake during the SAARC meeting. Pakistani authorities did not allow entry of Indianmediapersons, including those from PTI and Doordarshan, insidethe venue of 7th SAARC Home Ministers Meeting in Islamabad. Singh had informed Rajya Sabha that after the meeting wasover, Pakistan’s Home Minister, who was the host, invited theparticipants for lunch but left in a car soon thereafter. "Keeping in mind the country’s prestige, I did what Ishould have done. I have no complaints. I had not gone therefor lunch," he had said. India had yesterday rejected Pakistan’s proposal to holdForeign Secretary-level talks on Kashmir and made it clearthat terrorism was "central" to its relations with Islamabad,whose different view and attitude has made it difficult forbilateral ties to grow. That apart, in his Independence Day address to the nationearlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared thatIndia will not bow before terrorism, and also brought upPakistani atrocities on people of Baluchistan and PoK, sayingthat they have thanked him for doing so. Though Modi did not make any reference to Kashmir valley,which is witnessing violence after the killing of HizbulCommander Burhan Wani, he accused Pakistan of glorifyingterrorists and celebrating the killings in India. Pakistan’s Finance Ministry in a recent statement had saidthe country would play the role of a "good host" and try tokeep the overall ambiance positive. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its memberstates include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal,the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. PTI MPB BJABK

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